Working from home, or “WFH” as it is now often called, is becoming increasingly common in the modern workplace. I’m fortunate enough to have a flexible job that allows me to regularly work remotely.
However, with the daily changes we’re experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, many people are beginning to experience both the perks and pitfalls of working from home. The chart below lays out the pros and cons of WFH. If you’ve ever worked from home, I’m sure you’ve experienced at least a few of these.
|Pros of WFH||Cons of WFH|
|You can sleep in later.||You don’t have a sense of urgency to get up and get started with your day.|
|You can stay in your pajamas all day.||You may feel groggy and unmotivated as the day progresses.|
|The refrigerator is right around the corner.||The refrigerator is right around the corner.|
|Your dog is always around, you can get your laundry done, and you can turn your music up as loud as you want.||There’s a high likelihood of getting distracted by tasks around the house.|
|When you’re not on a call, you can get more project work done.||Your co-workers aren’t right around the corner to ask questions or communicate with.|
|You can sit in a cozy chair in the comfort of your own living room.||You may not have access to the same resources you do in the office (such as a second computer monitor, IT department, and printing capabilities).|
If you struggle to work from home, you’re not alone. It can be challenging, and it takes mental strength to stay focused and on task.
To help those who find working from home challenging, here are some tips for staying motivated and being efficient.
Set a schedule and establish a daily routine
I find I’m most productive when I set and follow a daily schedule. For example, here is the approximate schedule I follow when I WFH.
|6:30 a.m.||Wake up|
|6:35‒7:30 a.m.||Get ready (shower, brush teeth, eat breakfast, read the news)|
|7:30‒8:30 a.m.||Catch up on emails and prioritize my work tasks for the day|
|8:30 a.m.‒12:30 p.m.||Work (meetings, project tasks)|
|1:15‒5 p.m.||Work (meetings, project tasks)|
|6:30‒8 p.m.||Prepare, eat, and clean up dinner|
|8‒9:30 p.m.||Personal time (reading, TV, yoga, checking in on friends and family, social media)|
|9:30‒10:15 p.m.||Wind down and get ready for bed|
During my working times ‒ 7:30 a.m.‒12:30 p.m. and 1:15‒5:00 p.m. ‒ I make sure to get up periodically and walk around, do a few squats or push-ups, take a short walk outside, or some other type of physical movement to keep my mind and body stimulated.
It’s OK if you don’t follow your schedule perfectly! Mine tends to fluctuate depending on what time my meetings are and what deadlines I have to meet that day. The important thing is to have a plan for the day and know what you need to accomplish.
Research and use various organizational resources
I use several digital and physical resources to make the most efficient use of my working time at home and keep myself on track. For example, I have a bulletin board above my desk where I pin personal and work-related notes, to-do items, and lists so they remain top of mind. I also use a web app called Trello to categorize my work projects and personal to-do’s. Unlike a paper notebook, which may not always be in reach, Trello allows me to access my information any time from any digital device.
Some people find it helpful to color-code their calendar so they can get a quick idea of what their day entails with a glance. Personally, I like to color-code my calendar events using three categories: “work” (blue), “personal” (purple), and “travel” (green).
Take time to figure out what works best for you. Everyone likes to keep organized in different ways, so find out what that looks like for you to keep you focused and on track at home.
Turn on your video camera for meetings
I know ‒ the “video” part of video conferencing isn’t always popular among employees. But the benefits of using your camera during virtual meetings are significant. For example, turning on your cameras prevents attendees from multi-tasking during the session, resulting in a more efficient use of everyone’s time. Video also allows you to see your co-workers’ facial expressions and body language, which makes conversations go more smoothly and creates a more personal experience for everyone.
Tip: When video conferencing, be aware of room lighting and your background!
Remember to keep your work life and personal life separate
The most important thing to remember when working from home is to keep your work life and personal life separate. This means that when you’re working, you’re working. When you’re not, you’re not. Being at home all day makes it easy to take either to the extreme. You may find yourself getting sidetracked by things you have to do around the house. On the other hand, it can be just as easy to keep checking your email around the clock because your home has, in many ways, become your office.
My advice is to segment your time into “work” periods and “personal” periods. It’s extremely important to maintain a healthy balance between the two. By following a daily schedule and getting into a routine, you can better segment your time to make sure you fulfill your work duties while also prioritizing your “you” time.